GDB 77.0: Sharks are circling

GameDay

Will next season be any different for the Edmonton Oilers? The optimist in me says it has to, because you simply can’t be this terrible for this long, but the crushing reality for Oilers fans and the players is there is no guarantee.

The fans have watched the lack of improvement in the standings, and a  few players have lived the nightmare year after year. Every year there has been a different catalyst leading them to the bottom of the standings: inexperience, bad defence, inconsistent goaltending, lack of scoring depth, lack of competitiveness, inconsistency throughout the lineup, bad coaching, bad management or injuries.

During the past seven years it has never been just one of the above. Often, multiple factors aided in their demise, and as this season comes to end I ponder: will next year be better?

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Gawd, I hope so. Covering a losing team for ten straight years is no fun. I know first hand there could be much more difficult jobs — I worked in the oilfield for eight years, and grew up on the farm, so I know what real physical work is — but constantly talking about losing is draining. It is equally painful for the readers and fans.

Having one playoff appearance in ten years isn’t asking for much. Heck, even a run to the playoffs late in a season to add some excitement seems reasonable, but the tire-fire known as the Oilers hasn’t been able to muster any sort of enthusiasm between December and April for quite some time.

The draft lottery should not be the most exciting day on the calendar year after year. When it happened the first time in 2010, Oilers fans were excited. It gave you hope the future would be better, but six years later it is still just hope.

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We won’t know if next year will produce actual improvement until we see what the roster looks like in August. Peter Chiarelli wants to change his roster, but will he be able to find a willing trade partner or two, to aid in his quest to re-shape his lineup? Again, there is no guarantee he will, nor is it guaranteed the moves will make them a playoff contender.

Here are the Oilers rosters from game #77 during the past four seasons.

2012:                                                                               2013:

Jones-RNH-Eberle                                                      Hall-Gagner-Eberle
Hartikainen-Gagner-Hemsky                                      Smyth-Horcoff-Hartikainen
Smyth-Horcoff-Petrell                                                 Paajarvi-Lander-Yakupov
Hordichuk-Belanger-Eager                                         Brown-Smithson-Jones

Smid-Petry                                                                  Petry-Smid
Whitney-Schultz (Nick)                                               N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Sutton-Potter                                                              Fistric-Potter
 
Dubnyk                                                                       Dubnyk

2014:                                                                           2015:
Hall-RNH-Eberle                                                         Pouliot-RNH-Eberle
Lander-Gagner-Perron                                               Hall-Lander-Miller
Smyth-Gordon-Hendricks                                           Purcell-Roy-Yakupov
Pinizzotto-Acton-Larsen                                             Gazdic-Klinkhammer-Fraser

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Marincin-Petry                                                            Klefbom-Schultz
Klefbom-Schultz                                                         Marincin-Nikitin
Fraser-Belov                                                               Davidson-Aulie

Fasth                                                                          Scrivens

Is the foundation of tonight’s roster strong enough to build tangible improvements in the standings next year?

For the sanity of Oilersnation I sure hope so.

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LINEUPS

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RNH and Lander are out, Maroon and Cracknell are in.

Oilers lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

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Sharks lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

QUICK HITS…

  • Will the Sharks want retribution for Darnell Nurse, similar to how Florida did with Matt Hendricks earlier this season after he rocked Aaron Ekblad? It was a guarantee Erik Gudbranson was going after Hendricks, but Roman Polak isn’t Ekblad, and the Sharks don’t have a Gudbranson in their lineup.

    At least they didn’t until they recalled Michael Haley today from the San Jose Barracuda. Haley has played in 10 games this year and has one goal. The 29-year-old has played 66 career NHL games. He’s a gamer, and is tough, but he’s only 5’10 and 205 pounds. It’s not like they recalled Fraser McLaren. I have no doubt Nurse will drop the mitts if Haley asks, just like Hendricks did. I will have a one small issue if Haley fights Nurse; the Sharks players who were so upset about his actions vs. Polak did nothing and let a career minor leaguer do it.

  • Many might disagree, but I’m not sold yet on Jordan Oesterle being a difference maker. His best asset is he doesn’t panic with the puck, which is outstanding. He makes plays rather than just hammer puck off the boards, or fire it out of the zone. My concern is how he defends in his zone when he doesn’t have the puck, and the lack of velocity on his shot. I don’t see him quarterbacking your powerplay. Hopefully he can improve his shot in the summer. He has been a pleasant surprise, for sure, but when the Oilers come to camp next year he can’t be penciled in the top six. If he is battling for a spot that means they have depth. I’m intrigued by his play, especially his decision making with the puck, but I’m not ready to say the Oilers have uncovered another gem. I need to see more.
  • I’m also much more bullish on Nurse than some. His numbers aren’t great, but how many other 20 or under rookies play 20+ minutes their first season? He isn’t dominating, and he’s made some rookie reads on the ice. His low point totals are a product of the coaches wanting him to focus mainly on defensive responsibilities for now, and once he is comfortable they will encourage him to create more offence. They don’t want to overload him, but when his main responsibility is defence and he plays on a weak defensive team, you shouldn’t be surprised by his unflattering numbers.

    In the past ten seasons here are the rookie D-men who were 20 years old and younger and played 20+ minutes/night for more than 40 games.

    2015: Aaron Ekblad and Damon Severson. Both on non-playoff teams.
    2014: Jacob Trouba missed playoffs.
    2013: Jonas Brodin made playoffs.
    2012: Justin Faulk missed playoffs. Adam Larsson made playoffs. (only dressed in 5 of 24 games)
    2011: John Carlson (played in AHL at 19) and Cam Fowler made playoffs. Travis Hamonic. No playoffs.
    2010: Tyler Myers and Erik Karlsson made playoffs. Carl Gunnarsson and Victor Hedman did not.
    2009: Drew Doughty and Luke Schenn missed the playoffs.
    2008: Jack Johnson missed the playoffs.
    2007: Marc-Edouard Vlasic made the playoffs.
    2006: Dion Phaneuf made playoffs.

    Every player’s path is different.

    Doughty and Karlsson had decent first years, but exploded in their second season.

    Faulk played 66 games as a rookie, but split the next season between the AHL (31 games) and NHL (38). He’s now a very steady and productive player.

    Phaneuf scored 20 goals as a rookie, but since leaving Calgary he’s only score more than 9 once — 12 in 2011/2012.

    Every player and every situation is different. It is rare for a 20 year old to play 20+ minutes and succeed. Nurse is having some growing pains, but I believe it is too early to make any sort of concrete evaluation on where he will be in two or three years. I like his skating, tenacity, competitiveness and puck handling. I believe he has more offence in his game and once he gets more comfortable at the NHL level the coaches will encourage him to be up in the play more.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Fear the Fin

How’s Todd McLellan enjoying his first year in Edmonton? Not very much, according to Elliotte Friedman:

“Coach Todd McLellan’s exasperation with his forwards grows on a game-by-game basis. At this point, I assume the only untouchables up-front are Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.”

According to friend of the blog Kevin Kurz, the Sharks have outshot opponents 125-75 and given up just two goals in their first three games without injured defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic. That’s definitely a small sample size, but maybe the Sharks are just benefiting from the Ewing Theory. Regardless, the Sharks need to keep this up if they’re going to gain ground on Anaheim and Los Angeles.

I wonder if James Reimer will get the nod in net tonight. He started the Sharks’ last game against Edmonton, and I’d imagine Pete DeBoer wants him to get one more start before the end of the homestand.

TONIGHT….

NurseFightMeme

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers fans add another layer to their thickly calloused heart as they watch a 4-3 loss.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nurse and Haley drop the mitts. Hockeyfights.com voting gives the Nurse the victory. And Baggedmilk has to explain to at least five people why he calls him Darryl.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Taylor Hall picks up his first multi-point game since January 18th vs. Florida.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  


  • Spydyr

    Dress Gazdic if they want to dance then dance and bring on donnybrook hockey.

    It would at least bring some entertainment value to running out the schedule.

  • Shredder

    You can look at the G:77 lineups for the last 4 years and look for patterns why they’re so bad:

    PATTERNS that show POSSIBLE ISSUES:

    1. Look at that defense in EVERY season. Holy hell that’s bad.

    2. Eberle in the #1 RW spot – he MUST be the problem (c’mon guys, this is a hockey blog, you know I was being sarcastic)

    3. How many players are no longer in the NHL that were in those groups? Like, 50% – we put non-NHL’ers into the NHL…and they don’t play well? Funny how that happens.

    4. Dubnyk/Fasth/Scrivens were all not proven starters. Looks like we have ONE problem fixed.

    5. We weren’t in a playoff spot.

    • Spydyr

      “2. Eberle in the #1 RW spot – he MUST be the problem (c’mon guys, this is a hockey blog, you know I was being sarcastic)”

      It’s not a problem if you want to finish the bottom three in the league every year.

      If you would like to finish higher you might want to get a better first line right winger. A player that brings more than one dimension.

      • Mike Krushelnyski

        I went to Jordan Eberle Dermatology and they did a great job checking the moles on my chest, but I had to get a referral to have another doctor look at the rest of the moles because they refuse to do a back check.

      • Dont understand all the trashes on this one, If Eberle isn’t scoring, he brings nothing else to the table, I think if these three (Hall Eberle & Hopkins) were all on bridge contracts at 3-4 million each, not so much would be expected and maybe we would be ok with their current production, Also would have had money left over to sign competent veterans instead of the parade of slugs we have witnessed, Just like Horcoff I don’t blame the guys for signing, but they were given way too much , way too soon and what we witness nightly is the results of piss poor asset and salary cap management.

        • Spydyr

          It is trashed because Oiler fans get to attached to certain players and cannot see their faults.

          After a game some fans will be saying “did you see Eberle’s sick dangle, he sure has some mitts on him”

          Then other fans will be saying sure did but I also seen him lose a puck battle along the boards that ended up in our net and did you see the back check on that play his man skated right by him.

    • lucky

      Here’s the thing, Oesterle will get the puck in the corner, make an escape move, skate to safety and take a look. Fayne has it on and off his stick in one motion, rims it without even a glance, turning it over in the zone. Which one is the NHL defenseman? Oesterle may not have proven much, but he isn’t terrified of the puck, and that is a big deal especially with this group.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    So hard to get excited about playoffs, for me to enjoy Oilers hockey this April I will be playing my VHS tapes from 06 again. If you bought seasons tickets for the last ten years Katz owes you a free season IMO.

  • RJ

    You can’t re-build the team in one summer. It’s going to take two.

    I don’t know how many times I read that last summer. Chia will have had a whole evaluation year, two full summers to make moves. If he is half as good as his ON fans say he is, they should be in a playoff position at Christmas time.

    I expect to be watching a record 11th season out of the playoffs. I’d like to be pleasantly surprised, but the team isn’t deep enough to withstand injuries as it currently stands.

  • Hockeyfan

    Gonna be a rough last few games. Gonna be rough next year. Gotta admit, very loyal fan base. At least you got last place reward locked up again. Sharks win 6 -1.

  • toprightcorner

    Of the rosters listed over the past few years, this is how many players are no longer in the NHL

    2012 – 7 (not including Smyth and Whitney)
    2013 – 5
    2014 – 6
    2015 – 7 (including Nikitin no Scrivens)

    Tonights roster only Cracknel may not be an NHL prospect anymore but I think he would have a shot. Clendening will still be a prospect but nay not be in the NHL. All other players are at minimum quality prospects though some need further development.

    This is also a roster without RNH, Pouliot, Klefbom, Davidson and Gryba all who are solid NHL players.

    This gives me hope that at least this team is moving forward and should improve over the next couple years.

    In past years, the team was just trying to fill holes with actual NHL players, this year they will be upgrading actual NHL players.

    I think this off season could be the most interesting of any over the past 10 years, especially if expansion draft is announced for next summer.

  • fran huckzky

    I may have overdosed on the kool aid but I strongly believe that the OIl have made strides forward this year and if not for injuries we wouldn’t be in the bottom 6. I believe that Chia and Todd will have us playing meaningful games March 2017. Pass the kool aid.

  • CMG30

    As a fan, the most frustrating thing about this decade of despair is watching this team go into each and every season with major issues throughout the lineup, especially when it came to the defense.

    It’s maddening to know right at the start that the best you can hope for is to finish middle of the pack -IF (and only if) everything breaks right.

    Year after year, the coach took the fall for managements intransigence and now here we are. This organization has wasted Hall’s, Hopkins and Eberle’s ELC’s and now we’re a third of the way through McDavids. I don’t blame Chirelli for the mess he inherited and I don’t even fault him for this season. After all, you can’t build on a mess. But going forward, he had better have one heck of a summer. I cancelled my cable a month ago and I won’t even consider getting it back if next years roster still has the same old issues.

      • CMG30

        Lowe, MacTavish and Tambi, primarily. Going back, there’s also tons of fault to find with the Edmonton investors group. Finally, Katz needs to shoulder his fair share because he enabled his buddies to continue with the circus for year after year through guaranteed job security.

        PC set himself up for big things this summer. He’s got cap room, assets, money, a shiny new arena and the ability to promise playing time with MacDavid. If Chirelli doesn’t deliver this summer then he goes on the list as well.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Think this is the year that the team finishing last will hold serve and retain that first selection in the coming summers draft. In recent years the Sabres as well as others have been evicted after previous attempts to occupy sacred ground. Keep on keepin on Oilers as they buck that trend this season. Like last season it will be well worth it.

    Don’t get me wrong, i won’t always hope for the Oilers to continually lose, but timing is everything. McDavid last summer and Mathews this summer, could far surpass the rewards of the previous 5 yrs combined.

    Watch Chiarelli punch that accelerator in June and July. The new building will open with a bang with the coming additons/blueline help next season.

    NSOGDP. Darnell will pour gas all over the ice and set it ablaze at the shark tank this evening. Instead of letting sleeping dogs lie, he whips the Sharks into a frenzy looking for more victims. Something wicked this way comes wearing 25 in white tonight. Nurse overwhelms future teammate Brent Burns in the main event.

  • Danglishish

    For all the “next year will be the same” fans out there, I think we’re forgetting the position that the Oilers currently find themselves:

    1. We have no fewer than five forwards that we could move, independently (Hall for example) or in a package (Yak + Pou +)in order to secure a top pairing dman.

    2. We are virtually guaranteed a top 4 draft pick in a draft with a very strong top 5. This pick (depending on what it is) can independently (#1) or as part of a package (#4 + Ebs) secure us a top pairing dman.

    3. MOST IMPORTANTLY, we have a GM running the show now who is known for bold moves, who has zero attachment to rebuilds of past, and who understands the value of a balanced, heavy team surrounding his high skilled players.

    What does it all mean? For all the pain and sorrow of watching another Oilers season get flushed down the tank, I am confident (perhaps naively) that all of that pain will make draft day very, very sweet. The Oilers team you watch tonight will look NOTHING like the Oilers team you will see in October.

    • RJ

      You got part of the script correct:

      1) high draft picks will make them better.
      2) they can make trades to add better players – the GM is going to make bold moves.

      But you forgot:
      3) the young core will be better as they get older.

      The team HAS to be better with high picks, bold moves and an improving young core!

      After six years of reading that script, I’ll wait and see.

      (BTW, after all of those bold moves, the slow start will be rationalized as the new players needing time to become acclimatized and gel.)

    • Oil City Roller

      Oh Danglishish, at the beginning of the year you kept blathering on about how the Oilers were better than their record, that wins were coming, and that anyone who couldn’t see that was an idiot. Then you went quiet when the Oilers continued to shame themselves and an entire city. Now, predictably, you are back to preach the gospel of hope and high draft picks. Everyone knows you are an employee of the OEG paid to salt these sites with positive comments. Spare us the charade and just post something to the effect of “Katz demands your cash” then move on.

  • Total Points

    •I’m also much more bullish on Nurse than some. His numbers aren’t great, but how many other 20 or under rookies play 20+ minutes their first season?

  • Total Points

    Jason wrote – “I’m also much more bullish on Nurse than some. His numbers aren’t great, but how many other 20 or under rookies play 20+ minutes their first season?”

    Ice time does not necessarily indicate the skill level of a player.

    It might have something to do with the level of skill of the other defenseman therefore by default he gets more ice time.

    Schultz for many games played the most minutes.

  • I actually think the Oilers are more disappointing this than last year.

    If and it is a huge “if” they get Matthews I will be stoked. He is a big boy that will no doubt give us the two best young centers in the world for a decade or more.

    Tired of all the core talk…What core do we really have?

  • Spoils

    “Nugent-Hopkins is dealing with what coach Todd McLellan described as a minor concussion.
    Nugent-Hopkins, who had his bell rung Tuesday against Arizona, won’t play Thursday against the Sharks and the forward will continue to be evaluated in advance of Saturday’s game against the Kings.”

    sounds like we will get a chance to see the revised top 6 with Leon on the wing after all.

  • RedMan

    Poor Nurse is going to be beaten like a rented mule tonight, and Kassian will act tough but do nothing but cheap shot some small defenseless player or run the goalie and end up suspended again

    • RedMan

      I called that one. Poor Nurse. He is such a young tender inocent child.

      What i notice bout Nurse is he fights best gainst guys that don’t fight back. Got served bigtime tonight

      Now we wait for Kazsian to run around and do something suspension worthy.

      • Harry2

        So the other guy landing 1 punch and the fight ending in a hugging match is in your tiny mind Nurse being served?

        You flames fans are tredding dangerously close to canuck fan territory in your rediculously blind bias comments/opinions

        • Derian Hatcher

          Against my better judgement, I will indulge here. I am willing to bet you have never been in a hockey fight in your life, otherwise you would know that having the stones to show up is the epitome of toughness.

          • Harry2

            Not sure what your getting at. Im defending Nurse. The poster was refering to him getting his clock cleaned but it was anything but. 1 maybe 2 shots landed but he held his own against a 29 year old 6 min a night bum from the minors

            Like I said before, SJ should be embarrassed. And if Gazdic doesnt repsond, I release him tomorrow

      • Nurse won.

        He got the Sharks to dress an inferior roster by putting in a plug who only played single digit minutes.

        Nurse fought early, got it out of the way sooner than later (smart move) and concentrated on the game. Nurse continued playing big minutes, Haley is nowhere to be seen.

        The Oilers then dominate a Sharks team that was crippled with an ineffective line weighed down by an inexperienced anchor.

        Nurse won.

  • Bubba Train

    What if the Oilers did not make a single trade this off season? What if they only 1/ got healthy and 2/ matured as players?

    With this in mind is it possible Oilers could win ten more games? Convert a few of those one goal games into wins?

    It is a great question because 10 wins = 20 points and playoffs.

    Depending how you answer tells you how far away we are from actually making playoffs. (not winning, just making playoffs)

  • Oiler Al

    If the Sharks are dressing their gorilla {Haley} to take care of Nurse, then why is McMillan not dressing Gazdic, tpo show them , don’t mess with the Oilers.

    And please, [ as someone else said] don’t bring up Kassian., he’s all wind and no action.

    Re: Osterle, he is the best puck moving D-man on the team.Yes he has warts on the back end of his game, but so does NO.1 D-man Sekera.#82 might not have a killer shot, but at least he gets it beyond the shin pads in front of him.Osterle needs to put on 10 lbs of muscle this summer.

  • ubermiguel

    How can anyone not be bullish on Nurse? Amazing skater, competitive fire, and he’s only going to get better. He’s in good company with that list of guys that played 20+ minutes at a young age.

  • Connor McFly

    When so much of the team is made up of waiver wire pick-ups and AHL hopefuls what do you expect a Stamley Cup? Chiarelli had lots of injuries to deal with and didn’t bring in one actual established NHL vet to help out. I’m not surprised one bit that the Oil are last.

    As long as the rink is full …well you know…